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Schuricht non mi è dispiaciuto.. ma l'unico che mi è davvero piaciuto in tutt'e due le sinfonie al livello di Szell è Solti con la Chicago Symphony Orchestra

ho visto che la Decca ha un bel cd con entrambe le sinfonie.. lo conoscete?

In generale, come vi sembra Solti alle prese con Beethoven? Sinceramente non ne ho ascoltate altre di sue sinfonie beethoveniane (per la verità credo di non averlo mai ascoltato alle prese con una sinfonia in assoluto!)

In queste prime due tiene tempi piuttosto spediti, pieni di vigore e molto danzanti (com'era lecito aspettarsi) - l'orchestra ha una bellissima profondità e un buon bilanciamento.. anche se si perde ogni tanto qua e là.. ma sono errorini veniali che su questi primi due lavori beethoveniani posso tollerare 😁)

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A me Solti come interprete delle sinfonie di Beethoven e Brahms piace molto. Ti dirò che è uno dei direttori che apprezzo di più in assoluto 

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Buongiorno a tutti voi miei cari amici.

Ieri nella mia regione (Lombardia) c'è stato un calo significativo dei malati ufficiali, quasi la metà rispetto a sabato che invece è stato un giorno disastroso con più di 5000 casi.

Che sia una piccola luce in fondo al tunnel? Speriamo..

Beethoven, Waldstein Sonate, 

Da una ritmica e sorda sonorità scaturisce una luce di speranza

Per tutti voi 

 

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Scusate ho sbagliato a postare la Waldstein Sonate qui.

Era destinata alla sezione dedicata agli ascolti 😁😁😁

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21 ore fa, hurdy-gurdy dice:

@6Rimbaud 

Stanislaw Skrowaczewski - Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra

Mi associo, esecuzioni molto belle e frizzanti:

500x500.jpg500x500.jpg

Non so, però, quanto oggi reperibili singolarmente (su spotify ci sono). Ma Gardiner e Harnoncourt, poi li hai sentiti? 🧐

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3 minuti fa, Ives dice:

Mi associo, eseczuzioni molto belle e frizzanti:

Non so, però, quanto reperibili singolarmente.

Si, per niente facili da trovare in CD mi sa. Io ormai mi sono convertito allo streaming, anche se rinunciare al CD fisico non è stato facile inizialmente, ma fatti due conti... Su Qobuz ci sono tutte ad esempio.

3 minuti fa, Ives dice:

Ma Gardiner e Harnoncourt, li hai sentiti? 🧐

Intendi me o @6Rimbaud ?
Per quanto mi riguarda li ho sentiti, ma a essere onesto non ricordo tra i due quale preferivo, né complessivamente, né sulle singole sinfonie. Dovrei riascolarle, mannaggia all'età che avanza....
Ho proposto Skrowaczewski, Ansermet e Leibowitz perché praticamente tutti gli altri erano già stati tirati in ballo, ad esclusione degli hippie più recenti magari.

@6Rimbaud Tra l'altro c'è una discussione con la lista delle integrali se può essere utile: Lista incisioni integrali delle sinfonie di Beethoven

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24 minuti fa, hurdy-gurdy dice:

Intendi me o @6Rimbaud ?

Ovvio, Rimbaud che chiedeva consigli. 😉

Aggiungo il vecchio Sir Charles in odore di filologia con la Scottish Chamber Orchestra (che usa ottoni e timpani d'epoca):

034571143019.png

Qui mi pare che i CD singoli non siano mai stati pubblicati, uscì direttamente il box. Meravigliose, proprio le prime due.

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On 23/3/2020 at 11:00, ken dice:

A me Solti come interprete delle sinfonie di Beethoven e Brahms piace molto. Ti dirò che è uno dei direttori che apprezzo di più in assoluto 

Su Solti-Beethoven consiglio questo documentario:

Prova proprio la Seconda coi Wiener negli ultimi anni di vita. L'integrale Decca anni '70 soffre a mio gusto di un certo accademismo ed effettismo sonoro. Qui, invece, nel video, lavora anche sull'organico oltre che sul metronomo serratissimo (un pò una sua fissazione) e su una certa idea di "leggerezza" del suono (light sforzato).

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Rispondo a tutti, che faccio prima 😁

Ansermet mi è piaciuto molto devo dire.. mi sono ascoltato anche la sua - meravigliosa - Pastorale.. una vera perla

Leibowitz l'ho ascoltato più distrattamente, ma non mi ha stregato

Gardiner e Harnoncourt li avevo ascoltati quando me li avevate proposti inizialmente, ma non mi sono entrati nel cuore

Skrowaczewski spettacolare, assieme a Szell e Solti il migliore tra tutti quelli che ho ascoltato sinora - a mio irrilevante parere naturalmente!

Mi ascolterò tutto il suo ciclo sinfonico beethoveniano, e anche quello su Bruckner, che pare ben recensito (che sappiate, ne vale la pena?)

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  • 1 month later...
On 29/1/2013 at 12:30, Guest zeitnote dice:

Qualcuno conosce il Beethoven di Kempe, inciso con i Münchner Philharmoniker pre "trattamento" fenomenologico di Sergiu?

 

5099963655520.jpg5099973530220.jpg5099960230324.jpg5099923228429.jpg5099960230225.jpg

Lo conosco io, è l'integrale più sottovalutata di sempre. Molto meglio di Masur con il Gewandhaus negli stessi anni e per me meglio anche della strainflazionata integrale di Blomstedt con la Staatskapelle Dresden; tempi rilassati, ormai Beethoven così non si fa più, ma se vi piacciono Maag e la vecchia scuola, il Beethoven di Kempe è fra i migliori.

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On 26/3/2020 at 12:02, 6Rimbaud dice:

Rispondo a tutti, che faccio prima 😁

Ansermet mi è piaciuto molto devo dire.. mi sono ascoltato anche la sua - meravigliosa - Pastorale.. una vera perla

Leibowitz l'ho ascoltato più distrattamente, ma non mi ha stregato

Gardiner e Harnoncourt li avevo ascoltati quando me li avevate proposti inizialmente, ma non mi sono entrati nel cuore

Skrowaczewski spettacolare, assieme a Szell e Solti il migliore tra tutti quelli che ho ascoltato sinora - a mio irrilevante parere naturalmente!

Mi ascolterò tutto il suo ciclo sinfonico beethoveniano, e anche quello su Bruckner, che pare ben recensito (che sappiate, ne vale la pena?)

Assolutamente sì.

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On 19/3/2020 at 17:21, 6Rimbaud dice:

Ciao Snorlax :)

Grazie per i consigli, in questi giorni mi ascolterò queste altre tre versioni (anche se, conoscendo Bohm e Jochum, immagino siano abbastanza distanti dalla mia concezione beethoveniana).. su Cluytens parto invece senza pregiudizi 😁..

Per quanto riguarda Furtwaengler mi ci sono relativamente appassionato leggendo il libro "L'armonia delle tenebre" di Montenz.. che in qualche modo ripercorre velocemente tutta la storia propagandistica e divulgativa di ciò che poteva essere suonato e no (e chi poteva farlo e chi no) durante il Terzo Reich.

Tuttavia, non penso di essere un membro della sua Brigata, ecco.

Non discuto il suo Beethoven (premesso che non discuto il Beethoven di alcuno).. ma certamente la sua concezione di Beethoven non è la mia - salvando (per modo di dire: è un capolavoro) la sua Nona a Bayreuth (1951, riapertura del festival) per questioni empatiche che non posso sotterrare

Forse Furt mi piacerebbe più con Bruckner ma ho già le mie versioni di riferimento.. un giorno lo approfondirò!

p.s. ho letto tutto il thread che avevi aperto proprio su Furtwaengler e mi è spiaciuto che tu poi non abbia avuto il tempo/la voglia di passare in rassegna tutto il lavoro sinfonico del direttore.. ne avrei approfittato per avere buoni consigli 😁

Allora fai un salto nel topic su Bruckner, ti si accoglierà a braccia aperte :)

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E di Rafael Kubelik che ne pensate? So che ha eseguito, seppur con orchestre diverse, l'integrale delle 9 sinfonie di Beethoven. 

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1 ora fa, ken dice:

E di Rafael Kubelik che ne pensate? So che ha eseguito, seppur con orchestre diverse, l'integrale delle 9 sinfonie di Beethoven. 

Non è un'integrale, nel senso che non è stata concepita come un ciclo discografico unitario: sono nove dischi con nove orchestre diverse, mi pare queste:

1- London Symphony

2- Concertgebouw

3- Berliner Ph.

4- Israel Philarmonic

5- Boston Ph.

6- Orchestre de Paris

7- Wiener Ph.

8- Cleveland Or.

9- BRSO

E' un Beethoven alla vecchia maniera, con tempi molto ampi e una marcata sottolineatura sull'aspetto melodico.

 

 

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12 minuti fa, Florestan dice:

Non è un'integrale, nel senso che non è stata concepita come un ciclo discografico unitario: sono nove dischi con nove orchestre diverse, mi pare queste:

1- London Symphony

2- Concertgebouw

3- Berliner Ph.

4- Israel Philarmonic

5- Boston Ph.

6- Orchestre de Paris

7- Wiener Ph.

8- Cleveland Or.

9- BRSO

E' un Beethoven alla vecchia maniera, con tempi molto ampi e una marcata sottolineatura sull'aspetto melodico.

 

 

In realtà è una vera e propria integrale pensata unitariamente, con la sola peculiarità dell'impegno di nove orchestre diverse. Fu concepita da Kubelik (non so se sobillato da qualche fantasioso produttore della DG) assegnando a ciascuna delle orchestre la sinfonia che egli riteneva più idonea. L'unitarietà del progetto è dimostrata anche dai tempi ristretti in cui avvennero le registrazioni, nonostante la necessità di organizzare le incisioni in ben nove luoghi diversi sparsi per il mondo e di stipulare addirittura specifici contratti con orchestre che all'epoca avevano rapporti scarsi (Concertgebouw, Israel PO, forse anche Parigi) o addirittura nulli (Cleveland) con la DG : si va dall'ottobre 1971 (Terza coi Berliner) al settembre 1975 (Quarta in Israele), con ben sei registrazioni fra il 1974 e il 1975.

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Si' ricordavo la anomalia di questa integrale. Sono molto venduti peraltro separati i due cd con sinfonie 7,8,9 e l'altro mini box con i cd delle sinfonie 4,5,6.

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Grazie dell'informazione @giobar

Pensavo fossero state riunite dalla DG successivamente. I due dischi della DG con le sinfonie centrali e con le ultime li conosco, le prime tre credo siano disponibili nel cofanetto con i Rare recordings di Kubelik, ma posso anche sbagliarmi.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 19/5/2020 at 20:44, giobar dice:

In realtà è una vera e propria integrale pensata unitariamente, con la sola peculiarità dell'impegno di nove orchestre diverse. Fu concepita da Kubelik (non so se sobillato da qualche fantasioso produttore della DG) assegnando a ciascuna delle orchestre la sinfonia che egli riteneva più idonea. L'unitarietà del progetto è dimostrata anche dai tempi ristretti in cui avvennero le registrazioni, nonostante la necessità di organizzare le incisioni in ben nove luoghi diversi sparsi per il mondo e di stipulare addirittura specifici contratti con orchestre che all'epoca avevano rapporti scarsi (Concertgebouw, Israel PO, forse anche Parigi) o addirittura nulli (Cleveland) con la DG : si va dall'ottobre 1971 (Terza coi Berliner) al settembre 1975 (Quarta in Israele), con ben sei registrazioni fra il 1974 e il 1975.

 

On 20/5/2020 at 10:05, Florestan dice:

Grazie dell'informazione @giobar

Pensavo fossero state riunite dalla DG successivamente. I due dischi della DG con le sinfonie centrali e con le ultime li conosco, le prime tre credo siano disponibili nel cofanetto con i Rare recordings di Kubelik, ma posso anche sbagliarmi.

Ho trovato per caso, in un sito, la recensione, a firma Richard Osborne, che fu pubblicata su Gramophone nel 1976, all'uscita dei dischi di Kubelik. Dopo 44 anni la lettura suscita il sorriso e un po' di tenerezza: molte integrali erano di là da venire e i confronti sono soprattutto con quelle di Karajan 63 e di Schmidt-Isserstedt. A suo modo, però, è un documento interessante.

Gramophone October 1976

 

BEETHOVEN. SYMPHONIES. 

Various orchestras conducted by Rafael Kubelík. DG 

2740155 (eight records, nas, £19'50). Booklet Included. 

No.1 in C major, Op. 21 (London Symphony Orchestra); 

No.2 In D major, Op. 36 (Concertgebouw Orchestra); 

No.3 In E f lat major, Op. 55 (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra); 

No.4 In B f lat major, Op. 60 (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra); 

No.5 in C minor, Op. 67 (Boston Symphony Orchestra); 

No.6 in F major, Op. 68, "Pastoral" (Orchestre de Paris); 

No.7 in A major, Op. 92 (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra); 

No.8 in F major, Op. 93 (Members of the Cleveland Orchestra); 

No.9 in D minor, Op. 125 (Helen Donath, soprano; Teresa Berganza,mezzo-soprano;

Wieslaw Ochman, tenor; Thomas Stewart, bass;

Bavarian Radio Chorus, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra) 

 

Traditionally, Beethoven cycles have been conceived with a single conductor and orchestra in mind. But as DG now brilliantly demonstrate, there is another way: a cycle deliberately planned to explore a range of tonal landscapes, bound by the vision of a single conductor, but entrusted to nine orchestras scattered across three continents. It is a bold, exciting concept; generously conceived and finely executed. It would have excited the founding fathers of The Gramophone Company, and I suspect it would have excited the composer, too. For if any set proclaims the far-flung appeal of this music-music which binds men together in the very act of celebrating their inalienable right to be themselves - this is it.

 

As a concept, then, it is at once moving and enlivening. Musically, too, the set is more or less consistently inspired, each ensemble clearly determined to give of its best and evidently responding to the integrity of Kubelík's direction. I sense that each orchestra enjoys playing under him, trusting to his scrupulous, unaffected way with the music.

 

In a stimulating short interview with Klaus Adam in the DG booklet, Kubelík admits that a conductor can strongly influence an orchestra, but denies that he can change its sound. Well, there is a famous story about de Sabata and Karajan at La Scala, Milan which rather disproves that theory. But Kubelík himself, though a conductor of a fine poetic sensibility (witness his memorable Schumann cycle for DG now on the Privilege label-2535 116-8, 9/75), is not consciously an orchestral magician. For him, rhythm and articulation come first; above all rhythm - the search for the ideal pulse which formulates and sustains the drama. In this he partially resembles the late Otto Klemperer (always a firm advocate of Kubelík's musicianship, incidentally). Kubelík's Beethoven may not have, ultimately, the reach and craggy grandeur of Klemperer's at its best; what it shares, though, is a comparably distinctive pattern and flow.

A word briefly about the recordings; and then some notes on the individual symphonies. Technically the set is a superb achievement, with the recordings themselves (by Heinz Wildhagen) reflecting the ideal of unity-within-diversity which informs the whole enterprise. The unifying factor is sonic excellence and the fine matching of each symphony with a particular orchestra and hall; the diversifying factor is nine symphonies, nine orchestras and nine individual tonal landscapes. Even the 'live v. studio' problem has been noted and integrated. The Amsterdam, Boston, Paris and Munich (Bavarian Radio) recordings were made after public concerts and retain concert layout and forces; the London, Berlin, Israel Philharmonic, Vienna and Cleveland performances are purely studio productions, with the minimum of woodwind doubling and first and second violins divided left and right of the conductor. So here, too, are several further dimensions of interest: fruitful juxtapositions to be absorbed and enjoyed.

 

Symphony No. 1 (LSO; Brent Town Hall, London). 

A superb performance, beginning with a beautifully graded sequence of wind chords and ending with a lithe, smiling, classiccally elegant, account of the finale. The slow movement marries gravity and Viennese charm to perfection; the Menuetto is as bright as a bay pony, nicely refined. Helped by the lively Brent acoustic, and exemplary LSO wind playing, Kubelík distils here a distinctively English performance, full of wit and energy: English music-making somewhere near its best.

 

Symphony No. 2 (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam). 

This is glorious, too. A rich, impressive reading caught in the warm, regal Concertgebouw acoustic. In manner the reading is very close to early Klemperer, opening up the scale of Beethoven's (too often diminished) first essay in symphonic D major/D minor. The opening movement is magnificent (how the coda blazes!) and the slow movement, too, is gloriously realized, each phrase characterized and sung with a wealth of considerate musicianship. The last movement begins vividly, but is inclined to brood in the lyrical subjects. I found this disturbing at first, but re-hearing only serves to confirm the integrity of the reading as a whole. The Symphony gets a disc to itself; its independence is richly deserved.

 

Symphony No. 3 (BPO; Jesus Christuskirche, Berlin). 

Another glorious reading, patient, articulate (notice the violins' separated Gs in bars six and seven), and deeply expressive. Older readers may well be reminded of Bruno Walter's interpretation (CBS 72057, 3/61), though the reading is very much Kubelík's and the Berlin Philharmonic's own. The slow movement is very slow, with a muffled, brooding start; but Kubelík knows that the players can sustain it: matchless strings, a principal oboe who would charm the god Orpheus and a brass choir that seems to conjure Judgement Day itself in the great summons midway through the recapitulation. And after this, there is a delectably live Scherzo (with perfect, jocund horns in the Trio) and a finale which is diversionary and symphonic at the same time. A finale in which the beauty of Beethoven's three- and four-part string writing sounds as rarely before, newly elucidated by the divided violins and a superbly balanced recording. The reading is a triumph for the orchestra - who play like gods, perfectly tuned to the music's every nuance - and for Kubelík who, typically, counsels restraint in the coda and thus does us the courtesy of forgoing the final word.

 

Symphony No.4 (Israel Philharmonic; Herkulessaal, Munich). 

From the hushed concentration of the Adagio's opening (beautifully paced by Kubelík) it is evident that this, too, is to be a memorable reading. And so it is. A fiery, gracious account of the score, very close in conception to Karajan's Berlin version (DG 138 803, 2/63), though without the appoggiatura after the double bar and with a few snatched notes - and a slightly pressing first movement coda which the Berliners would doubtless eschew. The Adagio is glowingly beautiful, the last two movements relaxed and fiery by turns. In sum, a lovely reading, setting new standards of excellence within the Israeli orchestra.

 

Symphony No.5 (Boston SO; Symphony Hall, Boston). 

Kubelík's interpretation is rugged and intense rather in the manner of Klemperer's famous 1956 recording of the Symphony (now part of HMV SLS873, 5/74). Certainly the tempi are similar. Tonally, the Boston orchestra is perhaps the least refined of the nine ensembles (an impression confirmed when they played Brahms under Ozawa in London in March). The slow movement, for instance, is here neither dolce nor pianissimo at the start. But, in context, a strong, enthusiastic reading of the Symphony; not an heroic reading in the manner of the finest recorded European performances but the unassailably optimistic playing in the finale, though a little wearing in its very insistence, is generously meant.

 

Symphony No. 6 (Orchestre de Paris; Salle Wagram, Paris). 

Back, for the Pastoral Symphony, to fertile European pastures; to a sonorous, expansive reading by Europe's newest de luxe ensemble. The first two movements are especially expansive, though Kubelík's keen control of rhythm fends off somnolence. At bar 422 and elsewhere the Parisians are made to put down their feet with a peasantish tread, alia tedesca; and the sustained onomatopoeia of the scene by the brook, murmurously beautiful, is enlivened by the piquant intrusions of the French wind soloists. After that, a strong, genial Scherzo, a grumbling, sultry storm and a transition to the song of thanksgiving on a not especially lovely, loudly blown Gallic horn (muted it gives the last page of all an almost Mahlerian twinge). The whole performance suggests country scenes seen in the glowing colours of a stained glass window. Musically, the spirit of Cesar Franck is never far off.

 

Symphony No. 7 (VPO; Musikvereinsaal, Vienna). 

This is a finely executed, classically satisfying account of the Seventh. The first movement is rhythmically superb, a true dancing 6/8, though you may think the basic pulse too slow by a hairsbreadth. For Kubelík, though, the first movement is no more than a staging post. The Allegretto begins modestly but grows gloriously, the players singing out in a way I miss on Carlos Kleiber's new recording (DG 2530 706, reviewed last month). There is a superb Scherzo, a Trio which blazes at nodal points (as it were, balancing the peaks of the Allegretto) and then a lean, fiery finale. At first I thought it too restrained; but re-hearing convinces me that Kubelík has found a golden mean, a classical, 'pre-apotheosis' reading that is uncommonly satisfying. Notice the superb interplay of first and second violins and how arrestingly the trumpets blaze, bells up, as the coda approaches. In reality, this poised, rhythmic reading, realized by the Vienna Philharmonic with civilized ease, is a good deal more exciting than it perhaps cares to admit.

 

Symphony No.8 (Severance Hall, Cleveland). 

This is a finely scaled, musically satisfying account of the Eighth (like the Berliners, the Cleveland players are gratifyingly careful about tuning). There are moments of poetry in the reading - the strings midway through the Allegretto, the horns in the third movement Trio - though perhaps the reading as a whole is a little dry and humourless, missing by a small margin the dancing glory which Toscanini, Karajan and Szell himself can depict in this music. A good reading, though, to carry us on from the Viennese Seventh.

 

Symphony No. 9 (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Herkulessaal, Munich). 

It was logical that Kubelík should wish the Ninth to be a homecoming to Bavaria; and there is no doubt that the slow movement is lovingly shaped: a dedicated, controlled reading that achieves real tragic pathos in the great brass summonses. But after the Berliners' Eroica and the Concertgebouw Orchestra's glorious realization of the earlier Symphony in D, the Bavarian Ninth can all too easily seem lightweight by comparison. Yet it would be a mistake to write it off; or even to conclude that here, as in his fine Mahler cycle, Kubelík has faltered before the supreme test. Again, it is a finely structured reading, rhythmically just. The first movement is lightly etched rather than richly engraved into the imagination (with curiously backward wind tone). The mid-movement tumult arrives with unexpected force and I would doubt whether it can be fully accounted for symphonically at this point; though the end of the movement is movingly won through to. The Scherzo is typically lean and decisive, its Trio lacklustre or beguilingly pastoral according to your point of view. The choral singing in the finale (again backwardly balanced - cf. Karajan's Berlin set - DG 2707 013, 3/63) betrays some of the vagaries of pitching and articulation which men like Pitz, Oldham and Karajan have devoted a lifetime to eradicating from European choirs; but, although Karajan's is the more blazingly beautiful account, this Kubelík version has its distinctions. It can be moving (the poco adagio utterance, all men are brothers) and is never less than live and humane. Overall , the reading leaves one modestly but not ineffectively with a feeling of ordinary humanity struggling as much spiritually as musically with the reach of Beethoven's vision.

 

That, then, is the set's substance. Over repeats, Kubelík's attitude is pragmatic but invariably effective within the context of each interpretation. Ultimately, I must leave you to decide the set's value alongside, say, the integral Karajan (DG 2721 055, 2/63) and Schmidt-Isserstedt (Decca SXLB6470-5, 9/70) cycles, both to my mind outstanding still. A Haitink cycle is also due in the New Year. Kubelík's is nonetheless a notable undertaking - sanely, humanely, at times gloriously, realized. In an often troubled and divided world its message, quite literally, crosses frontiers. 

R.O.

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37 minuti fa, giobar dice:

 

Ho trovato per caso, in un sito, la recensione, a firma Richard Osborne, che fu pubblicata su Gramophone nel 1976, all'uscita dei dischi di Kubelik. Dopo 44 anni la lettura suscita il sorriso e un po' di tenerezza: molte integrali erano di là da venire e i confronti sono soprattutto con quelle di Karajan 63 e di Schmidt-Isserstedt. A suo modo, però, è un documento interessante.

Gramophone October 1976

 

BEETHOVEN. SYMPHONIES. 

Various orchestras conducted by Rafael Kubelík. DG 

2740155 (eight records, nas, £19'50). Booklet Included. 

No.1 in C major, Op. 21 (London Symphony Orchestra); 

No.2 In D major, Op. 36 (Concertgebouw Orchestra); 

No.3 In E f lat major, Op. 55 (Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra); 

No.4 In B f lat major, Op. 60 (Israel Philharmonic Orchestra); 

No.5 in C minor, Op. 67 (Boston Symphony Orchestra); 

No.6 in F major, Op. 68, "Pastoral" (Orchestre de Paris); 

No.7 in A major, Op. 92 (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra); 

No.8 in F major, Op. 93 (Members of the Cleveland Orchestra); 

No.9 in D minor, Op. 125 (Helen Donath, soprano; Teresa Berganza,mezzo-soprano;

Wieslaw Ochman, tenor; Thomas Stewart, bass;

Bavarian Radio Chorus, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra) 

 

Traditionally, Beethoven cycles have been conceived with a single conductor and orchestra in mind. But as DG now brilliantly demonstrate, there is another way: a cycle deliberately planned to explore a range of tonal landscapes, bound by the vision of a single conductor, but entrusted to nine orchestras scattered across three continents. It is a bold, exciting concept; generously conceived and finely executed. It would have excited the founding fathers of The Gramophone Company, and I suspect it would have excited the composer, too. For if any set proclaims the far-flung appeal of this music-music which binds men together in the very act of celebrating their inalienable right to be themselves - this is it.

 

As a concept, then, it is at once moving and enlivening. Musically, too, the set is more or less consistently inspired, each ensemble clearly determined to give of its best and evidently responding to the integrity of Kubelík's direction. I sense that each orchestra enjoys playing under him, trusting to his scrupulous, unaffected way with the music.

 

In a stimulating short interview with Klaus Adam in the DG booklet, Kubelík admits that a conductor can strongly influence an orchestra, but denies that he can change its sound. Well, there is a famous story about de Sabata and Karajan at La Scala, Milan which rather disproves that theory. But Kubelík himself, though a conductor of a fine poetic sensibility (witness his memorable Schumann cycle for DG now on the Privilege label-2535 116-8, 9/75), is not consciously an orchestral magician. For him, rhythm and articulation come first; above all rhythm - the search for the ideal pulse which formulates and sustains the drama. In this he partially resembles the late Otto Klemperer (always a firm advocate of Kubelík's musicianship, incidentally). Kubelík's Beethoven may not have, ultimately, the reach and craggy grandeur of Klemperer's at its best; what it shares, though, is a comparably distinctive pattern and flow.

A word briefly about the recordings; and then some notes on the individual symphonies. Technically the set is a superb achievement, with the recordings themselves (by Heinz Wildhagen) reflecting the ideal of unity-within-diversity which informs the whole enterprise. The unifying factor is sonic excellence and the fine matching of each symphony with a particular orchestra and hall; the diversifying factor is nine symphonies, nine orchestras and nine individual tonal landscapes. Even the 'live v. studio' problem has been noted and integrated. The Amsterdam, Boston, Paris and Munich (Bavarian Radio) recordings were made after public concerts and retain concert layout and forces; the London, Berlin, Israel Philharmonic, Vienna and Cleveland performances are purely studio productions, with the minimum of woodwind doubling and first and second violins divided left and right of the conductor. So here, too, are several further dimensions of interest: fruitful juxtapositions to be absorbed and enjoyed.

 

Symphony No. 1 (LSO; Brent Town Hall, London). 

A superb performance, beginning with a beautifully graded sequence of wind chords and ending with a lithe, smiling, classiccally elegant, account of the finale. The slow movement marries gravity and Viennese charm to perfection; the Menuetto is as bright as a bay pony, nicely refined. Helped by the lively Brent acoustic, and exemplary LSO wind playing, Kubelík distils here a distinctively English performance, full of wit and energy: English music-making somewhere near its best.

 

Symphony No. 2 (Concertgebouw, Amsterdam). 

This is glorious, too. A rich, impressive reading caught in the warm, regal Concertgebouw acoustic. In manner the reading is very close to early Klemperer, opening up the scale of Beethoven's (too often diminished) first essay in symphonic D major/D minor. The opening movement is magnificent (how the coda blazes!) and the slow movement, too, is gloriously realized, each phrase characterized and sung with a wealth of considerate musicianship. The last movement begins vividly, but is inclined to brood in the lyrical subjects. I found this disturbing at first, but re-hearing only serves to confirm the integrity of the reading as a whole. The Symphony gets a disc to itself; its independence is richly deserved.

 

Symphony No. 3 (BPO; Jesus Christuskirche, Berlin). 

Another glorious reading, patient, articulate (notice the violins' separated Gs in bars six and seven), and deeply expressive. Older readers may well be reminded of Bruno Walter's interpretation (CBS 72057, 3/61), though the reading is very much Kubelík's and the Berlin Philharmonic's own. The slow movement is very slow, with a muffled, brooding start; but Kubelík knows that the players can sustain it: matchless strings, a principal oboe who would charm the god Orpheus and a brass choir that seems to conjure Judgement Day itself in the great summons midway through the recapitulation. And after this, there is a delectably live Scherzo (with perfect, jocund horns in the Trio) and a finale which is diversionary and symphonic at the same time. A finale in which the beauty of Beethoven's three- and four-part string writing sounds as rarely before, newly elucidated by the divided violins and a superbly balanced recording. The reading is a triumph for the orchestra - who play like gods, perfectly tuned to the music's every nuance - and for Kubelík who, typically, counsels restraint in the coda and thus does us the courtesy of forgoing the final word.

 

Symphony No.4 (Israel Philharmonic; Herkulessaal, Munich). 

From the hushed concentration of the Adagio's opening (beautifully paced by Kubelík) it is evident that this, too, is to be a memorable reading. And so it is. A fiery, gracious account of the score, very close in conception to Karajan's Berlin version (DG 138 803, 2/63), though without the appoggiatura after the double bar and with a few snatched notes - and a slightly pressing first movement coda which the Berliners would doubtless eschew. The Adagio is glowingly beautiful, the last two movements relaxed and fiery by turns. In sum, a lovely reading, setting new standards of excellence within the Israeli orchestra.

 

Symphony No.5 (Boston SO; Symphony Hall, Boston). 

Kubelík's interpretation is rugged and intense rather in the manner of Klemperer's famous 1956 recording of the Symphony (now part of HMV SLS873, 5/74). Certainly the tempi are similar. Tonally, the Boston orchestra is perhaps the least refined of the nine ensembles (an impression confirmed when they played Brahms under Ozawa in London in March). The slow movement, for instance, is here neither dolce nor pianissimo at the start. But, in context, a strong, enthusiastic reading of the Symphony; not an heroic reading in the manner of the finest recorded European performances but the unassailably optimistic playing in the finale, though a little wearing in its very insistence, is generously meant.

 

Symphony No. 6 (Orchestre de Paris; Salle Wagram, Paris). 

Back, for the Pastoral Symphony, to fertile European pastures; to a sonorous, expansive reading by Europe's newest de luxe ensemble. The first two movements are especially expansive, though Kubelík's keen control of rhythm fends off somnolence. At bar 422 and elsewhere the Parisians are made to put down their feet with a peasantish tread, alia tedesca; and the sustained onomatopoeia of the scene by the brook, murmurously beautiful, is enlivened by the piquant intrusions of the French wind soloists. After that, a strong, genial Scherzo, a grumbling, sultry storm and a transition to the song of thanksgiving on a not especially lovely, loudly blown Gallic horn (muted it gives the last page of all an almost Mahlerian twinge). The whole performance suggests country scenes seen in the glowing colours of a stained glass window. Musically, the spirit of Cesar Franck is never far off.

 

Symphony No. 7 (VPO; Musikvereinsaal, Vienna). 

This is a finely executed, classically satisfying account of the Seventh. The first movement is rhythmically superb, a true dancing 6/8, though you may think the basic pulse too slow by a hairsbreadth. For Kubelík, though, the first movement is no more than a staging post. The Allegretto begins modestly but grows gloriously, the players singing out in a way I miss on Carlos Kleiber's new recording (DG 2530 706, reviewed last month). There is a superb Scherzo, a Trio which blazes at nodal points (as it were, balancing the peaks of the Allegretto) and then a lean, fiery finale. At first I thought it too restrained; but re-hearing convinces me that Kubelík has found a golden mean, a classical, 'pre-apotheosis' reading that is uncommonly satisfying. Notice the superb interplay of first and second violins and how arrestingly the trumpets blaze, bells up, as the coda approaches. In reality, this poised, rhythmic reading, realized by the Vienna Philharmonic with civilized ease, is a good deal more exciting than it perhaps cares to admit.

 

Symphony No.8 (Severance Hall, Cleveland). 

This is a finely scaled, musically satisfying account of the Eighth (like the Berliners, the Cleveland players are gratifyingly careful about tuning). There are moments of poetry in the reading - the strings midway through the Allegretto, the horns in the third movement Trio - though perhaps the reading as a whole is a little dry and humourless, missing by a small margin the dancing glory which Toscanini, Karajan and Szell himself can depict in this music. A good reading, though, to carry us on from the Viennese Seventh.

 

Symphony No. 9 (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Herkulessaal, Munich). 

It was logical that Kubelík should wish the Ninth to be a homecoming to Bavaria; and there is no doubt that the slow movement is lovingly shaped: a dedicated, controlled reading that achieves real tragic pathos in the great brass summonses. But after the Berliners' Eroica and the Concertgebouw Orchestra's glorious realization of the earlier Symphony in D, the Bavarian Ninth can all too easily seem lightweight by comparison. Yet it would be a mistake to write it off; or even to conclude that here, as in his fine Mahler cycle, Kubelík has faltered before the supreme test. Again, it is a finely structured reading, rhythmically just. The first movement is lightly etched rather than richly engraved into the imagination (with curiously backward wind tone). The mid-movement tumult arrives with unexpected force and I would doubt whether it can be fully accounted for symphonically at this point; though the end of the movement is movingly won through to. The Scherzo is typically lean and decisive, its Trio lacklustre or beguilingly pastoral according to your point of view. The choral singing in the finale (again backwardly balanced - cf. Karajan's Berlin set - DG 2707 013, 3/63) betrays some of the vagaries of pitching and articulation which men like Pitz, Oldham and Karajan have devoted a lifetime to eradicating from European choirs; but, although Karajan's is the more blazingly beautiful account, this Kubelík version has its distinctions. It can be moving (the poco adagio utterance, all men are brothers) and is never less than live and humane. Overall , the reading leaves one modestly but not ineffectively with a feeling of ordinary humanity struggling as much spiritually as musically with the reach of Beethoven's vision.

 

That, then, is the set's substance. Over repeats, Kubelík's attitude is pragmatic but invariably effective within the context of each interpretation. Ultimately, I must leave you to decide the set's value alongside, say, the integral Karajan (DG 2721 055, 2/63) and Schmidt-Isserstedt (Decca SXLB6470-5, 9/70) cycles, both to my mind outstanding still. A Haitink cycle is also due in the New Year. Kubelík's is nonetheless a notable undertaking - sanely, humanely, at times gloriously, realized. In an often troubled and divided world its message, quite literally, crosses frontiers. 

R.O.

A me Osborne piace molto, è sempre stato il mio recensore di Gramophone preferito, se non altro per la prosa sempre sapida. Complessivamente mi sembra una bella e ragionevole rassegna. Proprio adesso sto ascoltando l'Ottava, una versione molto bella, quasi teatrale, rossiniana (insomma non la trovo così "humourless" come dice Osborne, invece condivido sui corni del Trio, magnifici!)

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  • 1 month later...
On 19/5/2020 at 15:34, Florestan dice:

Assolutamente sì.

Di Skrowaczewski mi è piaciuta in particolare la Quarta (di Bruckner intendo).

Ho ascoltato attentamente anche la Settima - di cui non ho ancora scovato la mia versione ideale (per adesso mi consolo con Giulini) - ma in alcuni passaggi l'orchestra (poverina) non ha lo spessore per poterli affrontare  :)

 

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37 minuti fa, 6Rimbaud dice:

Di Skrowaczewski mi è piaciuta in particolare la Quarta (di Bruckner intendo).

Ho ascoltato attentamente anche la Settima - di cui non ho ancora scovato la mia versione ideale (per adesso mi consolo con Giulini) - ma in alcuni passaggi l'orchestra (poverina) non ha lo spessore per poterli affrontare  :)

 

A me della Settima piace la versione di Abbado con i Wiener (integrale anni 80).

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